This work was meant for my advanced students of English. Springboard for this was a movie that was brought in by one of my students, "Savior" by Oliver Stone, about war in Bosnia in 1993.This writing was finished 14 January, 2002. Edited on November 5, 2012.
1. Why bother discussing Yugoslavia?In the spring of 1999, NATO has been bombing Yugoslavia for 78 days. Over 12 thousand sorties have been flown. Depleted uranium shells and missiles have been used all over the country. Since June 1999, Kosovo is an "international protectorate", which in reality means a U.S. and German colony. 60 thousand NATO troops are stationed there. (Picture: camp Bondsteel, built in late 1990's by the U.S. Army on the territory of Serbia, Kosovo province, and Macedonia. It is a U.S. base of occupation of the former Yugoslavia, with around 7000 soldiers and 52 helicopter pads.)
In an article entitled "Implications of the NATO Attack against Yugoslavia for European Security and Russian-Western Relations" Dimitri Danilov (director of a European Security Institute in Moscow) writes: "The West aspired to solidify important political results of the changes in Europe by using Yugoslavia as a training site". And further: "The slogan "Today Yugoslavia--tomorrow Russia" has met with the greatest support and understanding among the Russian public."
That is true. Yugoslavia is a training ground for the possible scenario of destroying and occupying the former USSR.
2. What are the objectives of NATO?
Dimitri Danilov writes: "Events in the Balkans are being used by leading European players as a mechanism for attaining their own political goals, which are entirely unrelated to the fate of Yugoslav peoples, be they Albanians, Serbs, or Montenegrins. These goals significantly transcend the parameters of regional interests." But what are these goals?
To answer this question, we have to stand back and look at the Western economies. What we see in the West today can best be described as "stagnation" after a period of growth which followed World War II (mind you: this was written before the global economic crisis of the late 2000's). Prof. Sean Gervasi, in Why is NATO in Yugoslavia? writes: "The Western countries ... are locked in an intractable economic crisis. Beginning in the early 1970s, profits fell, production faltered, long-term unemployment began to rise and standards of living began to fall. There were, of course, the ups and downs of the business cycle. But what was important was the trend. The trend of GDP growth in the major Western countries has been downward since the major recession of 1973-1975. In the United States, for instance, the rate of growth fell from about 4 per cent per year in the 1950s and the 1960s, to 2.9 per cent in the 1970s ... then to about 2.4 per cent in the 1980s. Current projections for growth are even lower."
In addition, there is a problem of unemployment, which is sharpening social antagonisms inside imperialist countries. Prof. Gervasi writes, in 1995: "The current rates of unemployment in Western Europe average about 11 per cent, and there is more unemployment hidden in the statistics as a result of various government pseudo- employment plans ... Capitalist economies cannot sustain employment and living standards without relatively rapid growth ... Declining growth has now returned us to the age of 'le capitalisme sauvage'. It has triggered economic and social crisis in every Western country". An economic and social crisis -- that is the state of the current imperialist countries. And this is evident in all aspects of life.
To find a solution to their problems, they propose a new imperialist scheme. This scheme involves a new re-division of European continent. Some countries are meant to be developed, while others are to remain in the state of permanent underdevelopment. Prof. Gervasi writes: "It is the idea of a new division of labor which is particularly important. In the German view, Europe will in the future be organized in concentric rings around a center, which will be Germany. The center will be the most developed region in every sense. It will be the most technically developed and the wealthiest. It will have the highest levels of wages, salaries and per capita income. And it will undertake only the most profitable economic activities, those which put it in command of the system. Thus Germany will take charge of industrial planning, design, the development of technology, etc., of all the activities which will shape and co-ordinate the activities of other regions. As one moves away from the center, each concentric ring will have lower levels of development, wealth and income. The ring immediately surrounding Germany will include a great deal of profitable manufacturing and service activity. It is meant to comprise parts of Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and northern Italy. The general level of income would be high, but lower than in Germany. The next ring would include the poorer parts of Western Europe and parts of Eastern Europe, with some manufacturing, processing and food production. Wage and salary levels would be significantly lower than at the center. It goes without saying that, in this scheme of things, most areas of Eastern Europe will be in an outer ring. Eastern Europe will be a tributary of the center. It will produce some manufactured goods, but not primarily for its own consumption. Much of its manufacturing, along with raw materials, and even food, will be shipped abroad. Moreover, even manufacturing will pay low wages and salaries."
That is the German scheme. We are meant to produce food and the raw materials and ship them to the West. We are expected to be like peasants -- work for peanuts.
Perhaps more important is the following admission by Prof. Gervasi: "Western corporations are not interested in promoting industrial development in Russia, as the foreign investment figures show. The primary Western interest in the Commonwealth of Independent States is in the exploitation of its resources ... Thus many parts of Eastern Europe, as well as much of the former Soviet Union, are meant to remain permanently underdeveloped areas, or relatively underdeveloped areas. Implementation of the new division of labor in Europe means that they must be locked into economic backwardness."
This admissions are confirmed by "0" investement by West in our informational facilities, but relatively large investments in food production and packaging, cigarettes, etc.
3. Division of zones of influence
It appears that Yugoslavia in particular, and Central Europe in general, have been divided between German and American imperialist interests. T.W. Carr, who is an Associate Publisher of "Defense & Foreign Affairs Publications", London, in GERMAN AND US INVOLVEMENT IN THE BALKANS: A CAREFUL COINCIDENCE OF NATIONAL POLICIES?, 1995, writes: "If new maps were to be produced of Europe which depict current zones of German economic dominance and military influence, they would bear a striking similarity to maps of the Holy Roman Empire, and, more recently, to those made a temporary reality by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich in the 1940's ... However, south of the "German Zone", in a swathe which runs from Albania in the West through Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldavia to the Ukraine in the East, is another zone to which the United States is paying special attention. It appears that the US Government views this southern belt as its area of economic interest."
Why is T.W. Carr so interested in explaining this to us? Because there are antagonisms between German and British imperialist interests: "Geopolitical circumstances changed in 1989, the communist threat evaporated, and once again, German Government actions indicate that the UK is seen as an impediment to Germany's strategic ambitions. Germany has taken steps to undermine the UK's financial standing and its credibility within the EU, NATO and the North Atlantic Alliance." E.g. "because of Germany's growing strength within the European Community, the British Prime Minister was unable to prevent the new European Central Bank being established in Frankfurt, rather than the city of London, the traditional international financial centre for Europe. At the same time Germany persuaded France to join with it to form the Eurocorps, a joint Franco-German military formation destined to be a 40,000 strong force not under the control of NATO. Only German and French would be used by the new formation, unlike NATO which uses English as its prime language."
The main bankers of Europe are now Germans, not British. Moreover Germany has formed a military alliance with France, and has thus outflanked Britain. That is why we are told about German and American "zones of influence".
The view of T.W. Carr is supported and made more concrete by Prof. Sean Gervasi: "Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were to be brought into a German sphere of interest. Germany acquired access to the sea on the Adriatic, and potentially, in the event that the Serbs could be overwhelmed, to the new Rhine-Danube canal, a route which can now carry 3,000 ton ships from the North Sea into the Black Sea. The southern reaches of Yugoslavia were to fall into an American sphere of interest. Macedonia, which commands the only east-west and north-south passages across the Balkan Mountains, was to be the centerpiece of an American region. (My comment: ever wondered why we had NATO in Macedonia in 2001?) But the American sphere would also include Albania and, if those regions could be stripped away from Serbia, the Sanjak and Kosovo. Some American planners have even talked of the eventual emergence of a Greater Albania, under US and Turkish tutelage, which would comprise a chain of small Muslim States, possibly including Bosnia- Herzegovina, with access to the Adriatic ... In fact, there is considerable jockeying for influence and commercial advantage throughout the Balkans. Most of this competition is between Germany and the US, the partners who tore Yugoslavia apart. But important companies and banks from other European countries are also participating."
In other words, areas like Croatia and Slovenia have been agreed to be in the German sphere of interest, while areas like Ukraine and Macedonia are in the American sphere interest.
We are dealing with a new edition of imperialism.
4. The internal situation in Yugoslavia
U.S. and German imperialism want to make Eastern Europe their colony. So obviously the question arises: how do they manage to do it?
First, let's look at the internal processes going on now in countries similar to Yugoslavia.
We take a comparative approach. That is, we can and should compare to such countries as the former USSR and Yugoslavia. In 1936 Leon Trotsky wrote a book called "What is the USSR and where is it going?" In it he warned that Stalinist bureaucracy is acquiring more and more privileges, and will want to convert these privileges in the future into some kind of property ownership. That is, they will want to convert state property into their own private property. So, he argued, the USSR may be going towards the capitalist restoration. Another possibility, Trotsky speculated, was that the bureaucracy will be overthrown by an underground Bolshevik party and some sort of Soviet democracy established.
A figure similar to Trotsky in the Yugoslav revolution was Milovan Djilas. For his views opposing the Tito regime, he has spent from 1956 -- 1965 in jail. In a book called "The New Class" he said that, after a fierce struggle of the factions inside a revolutionary party, the fruits of a revolution which has been carried on by the peasants and workers go only to the most conservative part of the party. These party members are transformed into bureaucrats. Just like capitalists in the 19th-century, these bureaucrats carry on the industrial revolution in the 20th-century. Meanwhile, an anti-democratic form of government is realized. Hence, Djilas makes a conclusion that Communists are new capitalists. He calls them "state capitalists". Further, Djilas argued, the bureaucracy turns into a closed, privileged caste due to its power of control over the national resources. They become a new "exploiting class". They have a control over the national resources de facto, and this is in contradiction with the de juro forms of property. In other words, there is a contradiction between actual control over the resources and legal norm. The meaning of the epoch is in overcoming this contradiction.
I do not agree with Djilas completely. It is not correct to call bureaucrats "state capitalists", because the goal of production in the USSR, Yugoslavia, etc. was not "self increasing value", that is capital. In addition, there was no mechanism for distribution of profits among the bureaucrats, as we see among the members of a joint stock venture under capitalism. There is the fact that the most important resources of production have been, and remain in state hands. Often bureaucrats use these resources as their own property, however it doesn't mean that they own them.
So, what is happening in Yugoslavia today?
Around 1990, the U.S. Library of Congress writes the following on the economic history of Yugoslavia: "In 1989 an estimated 60 percent of Yugoslav workers lived at or below the minimum income level guaranteed by the state, and the standard of living had fallen by 40 percent since 1982 ... . Average monthly takehome pay for an employee in the social sector was US$170 in 1989. " So, that means a steadily falling standard of living for Yugoslavs.
But listen further: "The three northern republics, Slovenia, Croatia, and most of Serbia, emphasized high technology in building production capacity and attracting foreign investment. By contrast, the less developed southern regions, especially Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and southern Serbia, stressed traditional, labor-intensive , low-paying economic activity such as textile manufacture, agriculture, and handicrafts. This contrast produced sharp differences in employment, investment, income potential, and social services among the eight political units of the federation. For example, in the late 1980s average personal income per social sector worker in Macedonia was half that of a similar worker in Slovenia. Especially in Kosovo and Macedonia, poor economic and social conditions exacerbated longstanding ethnic animosities and periodically ignited uprisings that threatened civil war." So, that means increasing regional disparities as the overall standard of living is falling.
V. Smith (who was inside Yugoslavia at the time) writes in his diary, as the civil war within Yugoslavia just started: "21-DEC-1991 ex-Yugoslavia- ... It seems clear that what IS happening is that the constituent parts of the old Yugoslav state are battling it out for who will have what in a post-Yugoslav Balkanized situation of several nations."
Diana Johnstone in "Seeing Yugoslavia Through a Dark Glass: Politics, Media and the Ideology of Globalization" writes: "In all former socialist countries, the big political question is privatization of State and social property, and local communist leaders in Slovenia and Croatia could expect to get a greater share for themselves within the context of division of Yugoslavia into separate little states."
Hence, the driving cause of this war is an attempt by regional bureaucrats to get a larger share of former state property. To do that, they have decided to break up the large country into a number of small republics. However, as the division of the large pie is a difficult process. As an example of difficulty of dividing a national economy and other resources, think of the Chechen oil: the transit routes are through Russia, as well as through other republics.
So, to overcome the difficulties, they appeal to anti-Semitism and the most rabid nationalism. As an example of our anti-Semitism, Sabina Ramet in "The Third Yugoslavia, 1991- 2000" writes: "Seselj (head of Radical party) confiscated the Jewish community's 147-year-old synagogue, which had been designated a state-protected historical monument, and had it converted into a nightclub".
As one example of extreme nationalism (chauvinism), we hear the following: "Poisoned by ten years of chauvinistic propaganda, 41.8 percent of Serbs surveyed told pollsters in November 1997 that the solution to the problems in Kosovo lay in the expulsion, whether peacefully or by force, of the Albanian population of the province. Only 27.2 percent felt that a policy combining tolerance and cultural autonomy would be the best approach." Can you imagine this? It's like saying, in Ukraine, that solution to the problem of Crimea is in expulsion of Russians, or, alternatively, Ukrainians, from the peninsula. And what is "the problem of Crimea" if not a repetition of the Yugoslav scenario?
The regime imposes nationalism in culture. It combines that with appeal to the most backward elements of a given culture. In "The Third Yugoslavia, 1991-2000" we hear about the "Turbo culture". One example of that: "Turbo fans frequented clubs such as Belgrade's 'Zombi', where they could dance through the night until 9 a.m. For men, required attire included gold Orthodox crosses, Nike Air Max shoes, and guns (to be checked at the entrance); for women, voluminous wigs, mega-makeup, and black corsets or spandex were de rigeur." I believe this is mafia imposing its "culture".
Another example of a Turbo culture are the lyrics from a 1993 song by Baja "Mali Knindza" (little Ninja from Knin), translated: They can hate us
or not love us
can do anything to a Serb.
This nation will live
even after the ustashe
because God and the Serbs
[are on the same side:]
the heavens are ours.
They can hate us,
all our series of enemies,
but Serbs are the strongest:
my grandfather told me.
In 2011, "The New York Times" published an article, saying that the modern Croatian state has fascist overtones. As an example, on the photo, we see fans of a Croatian rock star in Zagreb wearing Ustashe caps. Ustashe were a part of Hitler's SS forces. Also, the fans give a fascist salute. Does it not remind you of the salute given by the supporters of "Svoboda" in Ukraine?
5. The external intervention
The Western capitalist and governments attempt to take advantage of the internal fighting to colonize a country, or a region. In "Mirjana Markovic's Diary: Serbs Fighting Serbs" (wife of S. Milosevic, the entry is for December 1997), we read: "The weakest spot has been sought and found in every Yugoslavia. In the former Yugoslavia, the weakest spot was its multi-national nature. It is easy to incite national passions and national dissatisfaction in such communities".
Prof. Gervasi explains it from a slightly different point of view in 1995: "Two Western powers, the United States and Germany, deliberately contrived to destabilize and then dismantle the country. The process was in full swing in the 1980s and accelerated as the present decade began ... Foreign intervention was designed to create precisely the conflicts which the Western powers decried. For they also conveniently served as an excuse for overt intervention once civil wars were under way." Can you seriously believe that the West is interested in the fate of minorities in former "socialist" countries, when the blacks are abused and exploited in the United States, when the Irish, the black and the Indians are discriminated against in England, when the Turks are beaten and burned in Germany, etc.?
To prepare a breakup of a country the West provides money and weapons to "independent" republics. Later, they provide the international recognition. T.W. Carr writes that a 2 billion dollar loan has been made from Germany to Croatia in 1990. This was made via Catholic Knights of St. John of Jerusalem Order. Behind the order are extreme German nationalists. The money ultimately went to acquisition of weapons. In addition, he writes that "the reunification of the two Germanies and modernization of the East German armed forces, made available a substantial pool of weapons and military instructors for arming and training of a Croatian militia. During late 1989, and throughout 1990, arms flowed from Germany to Croatia to equip militia units."
Diana Johnston writes: "Sure of the active sympathy of Germany, Austria, and the Vatican, leaders in Slovenia and Croatia prepared the fait accompli of unilateral, unnegotiated secession, proclaimed in 1991. Such secession was illegal, under Yugoslav and international law, and was certain to precipitate a civil war. The key role of German (and Vatican) support was to provide rapid international recognition of the new independent republics, in order to transform Yugoslavia into an "aggressor" on its own territory."
So, the pattern that we see is the following: a country that is backward achieves the "socialist revolution". This allows a country to pass over the stage of initial industrialization quickly. The role which has been formerly played by capitalist elements is now taken on by bureaucrats. In the years immediately following the takeover of power, the leaders, with their crude methods, are able to achieve progress. However, the higher goals which stand before the country, and the world in general, demand democracy and creativity, initiative and self-reliance -- qualities which are more incompatible with bureaucratic management then with capitalist methods. Since the country is unable to press forward, since it is cut off from the exchange with the developed world, stagnation sets in quickly. Following the stage of stagnation is the stage of capitalist restoration, i.e. country rolling backward in its economic and cultural-social development. At this stage former bureaucrats attempt to become new capitalists. They attempt to take former state productive resources into their own possession. This they're not able to do without dividing up the big country into a number of "independent" states. They incite nationalist and ethnic hatreds to help them take a greater chunk of property. In this, they are aided by the West, which is currently going through a stage of economic and social deterioration. The West hopes to solve its problems by opening up the markets of the East and central Europe, by making use of the productive resources, especially raw materials and cheap labor of the East and central Europe. Hence, they aid in the process of breaking up the country by inciting ethnic hatreds, by supplying money to "independent governments" i.e. these are "loans" which are stolen by bureaucrats and which the people have to pay for. In addition, the West supplies weapons and international recognition to "independent" regimes. International recognition of "independent" republics allows the West to impose international sanctions against "aggressors", whom it names according to its own liking. Later on, economic sanctions are substituted by direct military aggression. This leads to occupation and colonization, in various political forms, of parts of former "socialist" countries.
6. Possible outcomes
The human cost of the war in Bosnia has been staggering. By 1995, according to Steven Sowards, "250,000 people killed out of a prewar Bosnia population of 4.4 million, over half of whom have become refugees."
NATO military intervention in Kosovo in 1999 has introduced a new element into the war: radioactive weapons. One of publications on the war in Kosovo says the following: "Pentagon uses DU (depleted uranium), a waste product of the uranium enrichment process used for making atomic bombs and nuclear fuel, because it is extremely dense--1.7 times as dense as lead ... DU is used in alloy form in shells to make them penetrate targets better. As the shell hits its target, it burns and releases uranium oxide into the air. The poisonous and radioactive uranium is most dangerous when inhaled into the body, where it will release radiation during the life of the person who inhaled it." You get all beautiful kinds of cancers from it, such as leukemia.
The tragedy of the Civil Wars and NATO intervention so far in Yugoslavia is that nobody seems to address the underlying causes of these wars, and hence the conflict is bound to be repeated along the old scenario, both in former Yugoslavia and else where. National hatreds are hardening in Yugoslavia and developing in other regions of former "socialist" countries, for example in Caucasus. In a publication devoted to Yugoslavia after the Dayton agreements we read: "US Information Agency polls indicate that attitudes in Bosnia are hardening. All three ethnic groups (Orthodox, Catholic, and Muslims) are becoming increasingly convinced that they are the sole victims of the war, that the other ethnic groups are benefiting more from the Dayton Agreement, and that the other ethnicities cannot be trusted."
DW, in a 2011 report, notes that tensions between Serbia and Kosovo over the border crossing. This indicates that the civil wars do not end, but take a "quiet" form.
What can be done?
Or, perhaps we can ask what is the next stage of development of the crisis?
In my opinion, the next page is internationalization of the crisis, the civil wars is becoming a world war. There are a number of reasons for that. For one, we should observe the thought of Milovan Djilas. He says: "any modern war has an indelible tendency to become a world war". That is true if we observe the global character of modern economy. And it is much more global today than say 60 years ago.
Generalization of Djilas sounds true if we apply it to the evidence accumulated around Yugoslaiva and the states which tried to "broker" the "peace process", i.e. the contact group consisting of Russia, the U.S., Germany, Britain, and some other countries. In a 1995 U.S. Army publication "YUGOSLAVIA'S WARS: THE PROBLEM FROM HELL" Stephen J. Blank, ed., we read: "For four years the international community has struggled merely to contain this fire and prevent it from inflaming a general European crisis ... Any further intervention could well trigger a pan-European crisis by increasing the tensions already inherent between Russia, Serbia's patron, and the involved Western forces." Think how much closer the world came to a world war in 1999 in comparison with 1995. In 1999 Federal Rupublic of Yugoslavia asked to join the Russian - Belorussian alliance. But Russian government declined this move - because of its ties to Western finance: "Having frozen its links with NATO, Russia continued, rather successfully, its negotiations with the international financial institutions", writes D. Danilov. Let's not forget that the nickname for the Russian Defense Minister, at the time, Pavel Grachev, was "Pasha-Mercedez". That shows you where his mind was.
Danilov, writing in 1999, agress with the U.S. Army publication in that the Yugoslav wars contain a possibility of a general war: "In broader terms, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia elevated a local ethnic conflict (of a below average tragic scope, as judged by the standards of the 1990s) into an international political and possibly military confrontation with a possibility for expansion beyond the Balkans and even Europe." The war by NATO on Yugoslavia "represents a deliberate orientation of the West, and most of all the United States, toward tipping the geopolitical balance in its favor in light of Russia's current weak position ...(the scenario) -- equal to an admission that Western policy in Yugoslavia is based on an anti-Russian strategy--could lead to a Russian orientation toward isolationism and confrontation with the West."
This new "confrontation with the West" implies use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. In fact, what has happened in Yugoslavia may represent only in minuscule scale the kind of destruction that may happen in Russia, and perhaps in other parts of the world. That is a both of a greater number of nationalities living in the territory or the former USSR, and greater industrial resources than in Yugoslavia.
Should such a war start to happen, three factors become important: one is the relative weakness or strength of the Russian government. Are they going to allow themselves to be beaten, like the government of Milosevic has allowed itself to be beaten? Are they going to cave in to the pressure from the West, while continue "successful negotiations with the financial institutions"? But in that case some of them may be swept away from power, and end up in The Hague, just like Milosevic.
The second factor are the inter-imperialist rivalries. Already in 1995, on the question of Bosnia, there were serious splits inside NATO. In "YUGOSLAVIA'S WARS: THE PROBLEM FROM HELL" Stephen J. Blank, ed., we read: "At the Munich International Defense Forum meeting in February 1995 there were particular acrimony and divisions. NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes even admitted that he was worried that differences over Bosnia and integrated structures in NATO might bring about a situation where the Atlantic Alliance "might get bogged down." Likewise, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe stated that the November 1994 U.S. decisions indicated that Europe would always be a political dwarf until it created its own European defense identity, a long-standing French objective. He also accused the United States of conducting clandestine military operations in support of Bosnia ... If this divisive trend continues, Europe's most durable security structures might break down. The result could be European anarchy and a renationalization of security policies across the continent." "Renationalization of security policies" means a new round inter-imperialist rivalries, and as a result - wars.
Finally, the third factor are the people, the consciousness of the people both in the East and in the West before the threat of new fascism. If people, as in Bosnia, allow themselves to be lead to mass murder -- then there will be new "Dayton agreements", and re-colonization of the former USSR. And the first thing they are after are the oil reserves around the Caspian Sea... If however, the people understand the causes of the war, then there is a possibility that they can organize a revolt against this mass butchery and degradation of human dignity.
The answer to a Civil War along the ethnic lines is a Civil War along the class lines, i.e. against the bureaucracy and the oligarchy which it originated.